After the birth, a mother may naturally feel more emotional, which can manifest as tearfulness, anxiety, insomnia, restlessness or insecurity. A total of 50–80% of women who have given birth experience this. Feeling emotional is caused, at least in part, by hormones. These feelings usually pass as the family settles into their daily life with the new baby.
Sometimes, feeling emotional can turn into depression. An estimated 10–20% of all mothers will suffer from postpartum depression. For most, this depression will come as a complete surprise.
The most usual symptoms of depression include:
- general low mood
- loss of joy in life
- problems with concentration and memory
- feelings of guilt or inferiority
- clear changes in appetite (weight gain or loss)
- fears, anxieties and obsessive thoughts
- feelings of panic and anxiety
- insomnia or excessive sleeping, thoughts and wishes concerning death
At times, depression can manifest as constant working and an inability to rest. This can make depression difficult to detect. During pregnancy and after childbirth, maternity clinics will use the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) to identify depression.
Ways to prevent postpartum depression:
- Take care of yourself. Even a small break from your everyday routines will help you to cope better. Taking care of your own well-being will benefit your baby and your entire family.
- If there is more than one adult in your family, take turns in caring for your baby. This will allow both parents to have a good night’s sleep from time to time. It is important that the baby forms a close relationship with its carers as early on as possible.
- Talk about your feelings and thoughts with your spouse, other family members and friends.
- Do not hesitate to ask for help and support from your loved ones.
Seek help for your postpartum depression as soon as possible. Bring it up during an appointment at the maternity clinic or make an appointment with a doctor. You can also seek help for postpartum depression from the family clinic, a health station’s emergency services, various organisations and private clinics.
Postpartum psychosis is a very rare (less than one per cent of mothers are affected) but serious condition, which will almost always require immediate care. Most mothers will recover well from it. You can find out more about the symptoms and treatment of postpartum psychosis from the website of Terveyskirjasto (in Finnish), among other places.
More information about the psychologist services at the maternity and child health clinics